On Wednesday, we put to you, our dear readers, a quiz to test your copyright cunning and privacy professionalism. Today we offer our opinions as to the answers to the quiz.
Disclaimer: The quiz and these answers are a matter of opinion only and are not intended as legal advice — do not rely on this quiz as a guide for your knowledge or actions. We may have mis-construed the nuances of a very complicated area of law, or even just got things plain wrong. Please always consult a lawyer before acting — neither IRIS nor us here at oopoomoo are liable for any harm suffered by readers of this post.
1. Your pictures are your own. You can do what you want with them.
False. No one has absolute rights. A photograph is a work of art that brings with it a bundle of rights that are limited by the rights of others. Two key areas that limit what you can do with your images are your subject’s right to privacy and whether your intended use is commercial or not. Got an image of your best friend holding her iPhone? You won’t be able to sell that shot! We cover rights (yours and your subject’s) in detail during the photo walk September 15, in Cochrane.
2. You can photograph whatever you can see when you’re standing on a public sidewalk.
False. Cameras are ubiquitous, and images are snapped and shared worldwide in a split second. But again, what you are photographing and how you use the image will inform your right to take or share a picture. For example, if you’re standing on a public sidewalk, can you photograph through a fence little children running naked through a sprinkler in someone’s backyard? Can you sell that image? Most of us would answer ‘no!’ to that question.
3. You can photograph anyone attending a parade, including women and children.
True. People attending public events have less an expectation of privacy than those children darting innocently through the backyard sprinkler. However, while this is technically true, there are many cultural considerations in play here. It’s always best to be a professional and ask permission before making any pictures of adults and especially before making images of children. Photographers get a bad reputation when they ‘steal’ photos or push for a shot. If you’re not a journalist, then be a gentleman (or gentlewoman).
4. Selling a photo of your abstaining friend to Molson for beer commercials is not only funny but harmless.
False. In addition to a reasonable expectation of privacy, people also have a right to publicity — or more accurately, to not have their public identity or status maligned. Commercially exploiting a likeness of someone violates this right and leaves the photographer open to legal action.
5. Even if you assign copyright of your image to a third party, you still have the right to claim ownership of that image at a later date.
True. Many photographers don’t know about their moral rights when they create an image. You can assign the copyright of an image to a third party, and that person is then in control over the distribution and replication of the image, but you still retain your moral rights unless you explicitly waive them. Moral rights, among other things, allow you to claim authorship of your image (or remain anonymous) and relate to the integrity of your work. Read contracts carefully, and beware those that ask you to waive your copyright and moral rights without adequate explanation or compensation.
6. If a person is willing to sign your property release, then you are contractually bound to give them something in return.
True. Getting the release is just part of your responsibilities as a photographer. You are bound by the terms of most valid releases to offer something in return such as money or prints. Make sure you provide your contact information to your subject and then follow up in a timely manner on your side of the bargain.
7. If someone gives you permission, it’s ok to sell a photo of that person.
False. Not so fast! What kind of permission are we talking about here? Verbal? Most reputable publications will require valid model or property releases before publishing your image — or your representation that you have such a release. Memories are fallible and can become more so when money enters the picture. Get the permission on paper in the industry-standard of a model or property release. We’ll be discussing where to find good releases and how to approach someone to obtain a signed release during the photo walk on September 15.
This is only the tip of a very dirty, grey iceberg. Negotiating your copyright and moral rights and understanding the privacy and publicity rights of others is challenging; and the stakes are higher for those who sell their work. We hope you can join us on September 15 at the IRIS Old Cars & Copyright Photo Walk as we navigate these troubled waters in the field!